Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a protected area of the Philippines located about 80 kilometres north of the city centre of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. The river is also called ‘Puerto Princesa Underground River’. The national park is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the western coast of the island. It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east. The City Government of Puerto Princesa has managed the National Park since 1992. The entrance to the subterranean river is a short hike or boat ride from the town Sabang.

PPUR has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and on January 8, 2018 it was then declared as one of the Seven Wonders of Nature.

PPUR is navigable by boat up to 4.3 km, and the cave consists of major formations of stalactites and stalagmites that form different shapes which can be compared to other things such as vegetables, holy trinity and more, PPUR is also one of the largest cave rooms which form a dome of 300 meters, it also boasts different species of flora and fauna, and two (2) additional minerals were discovered in the underground river.

It is truly a magnificent creation of nature, one of the fascinating underground rivers in the world, a place that needs to be witnessed right before your eyes.

How to get there?

To get there, you would need to secure a permit at the PPUR Booking Office and travel by tricycle, van (or bus/jeepney), and two boats to the Underground River and then back.

On the other hand, the fastest way to get to the Underground River is to book a package tour preferably at least three days before your preferred tour date.

We recommend you secure your slots ahead of time as the tours can get fully booked.

In our case, since we haven’t really planned our itinerary and hassle free Puerto Princesa trip, then we opt to book our tours via KLOOK. Don’t have an account? Sign up now and get 150 PHP discount on your first activity.

A package tour to the Underground River includes:

  • Permit to go inside the Underground River
  • Pick-up and drop-off at your hotel in the city center
  • Van transfer from the city center to the National Park and back
  • Van transfers to side trips within the National Park (optional)
  • Two boat transfers from Sabang Port to the Underground River
  • Accredited tour guide
  • Underground River audio device guide
  • Eat-all-you-can buffet lunch

Planning to do a DIY trip? Here’s what you should know.

1. Secure your visitor’s permit

Secure your permit (P500 per head) at the Puerto Princesa Underground River Booking Office at least a day before your planned tour. Personal appearance and one valid ID are required to get a permit. The Booking Office is located in the City Coliseum (see map) in the city center. Operating hours is between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm everyday.

2. Go to San Jose Terminal

On the day of your tour, take a tricycle to San Jose Terminal (see map) in the city center. This costs around P80 per person or P150 per tricycle, depending on the distance. It is much recommended to have multiple tricycle ride, as it usually cost only 10 PHP per way, just ask around locals they’re happy to help. Try to get the earliest trip possible to Sabang because the line to the Underground River is crazy long!

3. Get on a van, jeepney, or bus to Sabang, Puerto Princesa

Once at San Jose Terminal, you can get on a van, jeepney, or bus bound for Sabang, Puerto Princesa. Travel time is roughly 2 to 2.5 hours as there might be several stops for loading and unloading of passengers. This does not include the waiting time as some need to fill up the seats before leaving. But you’ll be lucky if you get into a van which all of the passengers are heading to Sabang, this could be lowered to 1.5 hours.

4. Secure your boat transfers and pay the other fees

Once you arrive in Sabang, just walk to the Dispatch Area in Sabang Port and show your permit. From here you can also secure your boat transfers (P185 per person, round trip) and environmental fee (P150 per person), note to keep your environmental fee slip as this can be used if you are planning to go for an island hopping in Honda Bay. You can also get an optional audio device guide (P85 per person) for the boat tour down the PPUR.

Tips when visiting the underground river:

  • Remember to secure your permit at the PPUR Booking Office (see #1). The National Park has a “no permit, no tour” policy.
  • Go to Sabang as early as possible to be the first in line at the Underground River.
  • If you’re coming late, you may want to skip the long lines by doing the Underground River tour in the afternoon instead, at around 1:00 pm.
  • Wear light clothing and water shoes or flip flops. Your feet can get wet during the boat transfer.
  • Bring sunblock, water, small towel, and an extra pair of clothes. You may want to swim in Sabang Beach before or after your PPUR tour. This is located next to Sabang Port.
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera.

Other things to do while in Sabang?

Sabang Beach

Located next to Sabang Port, this beach spans about a kilometer long of soft white sand and lovely aquamarine water. You’ll have to watch out for riptides though as the current in this beach can get pretty strong.

The best best time to go to Sabang Beach is during the summer months between April and June, when the weather is calm. The waves are wild and choppy during the amihan season between November and March.

There are several accommodations along this beach, going for as low as P500 per room, good for two. The two best rated places to stay are Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort and Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa.

Entrance Fee: Free to see or swim

Operating Hours: The beach is open 24 hours but lifeguards are on duty only during day time.

Location: Sitio Sabang, Brgy. Cabayugan, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan (see map)

Sabang Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour

This serene boat tour takes you deep in the sprawling 47-hectare Sabang Mangrove Forest. The mangrove trees in this forest are some of the oldest in the National Park, rising as high as 45 meters and going as old as more than 300 years.

The boat guide will introduce you to the four species of mangrove in this forest, as well as the wild creatures that make this place their home. These include various kinds of fish, birds, snakes, lizards, and crabs, some of which you can spot from the boat.

If you’re lucky, your guide can let you visit a 100-meter bamboo boardwalk on a cliff side. You’ll see some mud-surrounded mangrove trees, their impressive root systems, and the mangrove tree that’s more than 300 years old. Unfortunately, during our tour they are fixing the boardwalk.

Entrance Fee: P350 per person

Operating Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Location: Sitio Sabang, Brgy. Cabayugan, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan (see map)

Sabang X Zipline

Situated right next to the Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour, this experience begins on a cliff side in Sabang. You’ll go on a 10-minute hike to the starting point of the zipline, wear safety harness, and then fly down an 800-meter cable over the beautiful sea and waves crashing on crags and rocks. The zipline experience takes about 40 seconds and ends on an islet. You’ll have to walk on a sandbar and white beach on the way back to the entrance and parking area.

Entrance Fee: P550 per person

Operating Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Location: Sitio Sabang, Brgy. Cabayugan, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan (see map)

So there you go, the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

Don’t forget to follow my adventures on INSTAGRAM.

Also, check-out my Things You Need to Learn About Legazpi, Albay: The Gateway City of Bicol.

Book your travels via Klook.com

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